Family addition sparks growth for both parent and child

Britty and Mom

I know her name, but I can’t tell you. What I can tell you is that two weeks ago she was the size of a spaghetti squash. And the week before that, she blinked her little eyes that sported soft new eyelashes. And, that in mid-August I am going to be a grandmother!

Yes, Nana B, that will be me!

DudleyLife has gained a new dimension since last Christmas Eve when each member of our family received a special gift—a framed photograph of my daughter, her husband, and their dog Dudley with a chalkboard sign announcing that a new addition to our family would be coming soon!

I was stunned.  Then elated. And then strangely overcome.

My child was going to have a child. How could that be? Was I finished parenting? Had I done a good job? And oh my, was I that OLD?

Although the mirror may tell a different story, I don’t feel that old—at least not in the morning after my second cup of coffee. My parents used to talk about time passing so quickly, that childhood disappears in a blink, that wasn’t it just yesterday they brought me home from the hospital to start their family?

Was I becoming my parents?

Was my daughter already becoming hers?

I must admit she made me earn my parenting stripes. Nicknamed, THE Brittany by my father, her Andad as she named him, she was deserving of the singular focus as in the one-and-only. Strong-willed with energy that always seemed to outlast mine, she pushed limits.


Four a.m. was her routine waking time until she was seven. When she was an infant, I thought she was waking up because she was hungry so I would feed her. But then the pediatrician said I was training her to get up early, like giving a kid ice cream in the middle of the night. Who wouldn’t wake up for a treat?

So I tried NOT feeding her. And she cried. And then I didn’t feed her some more. And she cried louder. So I gave up. I guess I trained her to wake up early.

My bad.

I was weak and she was strong—even when the bottles were gone.

Once she sashayed up to me and asked in her famous two-year-old lisp, “Why do I have to wisten to you, Mommy?”

At age three, she cut her bangs down to the root. When I scolded her saying that she knew better, she promptly put both hands on her hips, looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “Well you’re the one that left the scissors out.” 

I wonder if my daughter will know how to parent that.

I teased her that in college she better take all 8 a.m. classes. Which she did. Then as a young career woman, she was up at 5 a.m. for her gym’s boot camp workout before heading to work where she began to excel. And now my mischievous little limit-tester is going to have a baby.

A few weeks after the Christmas announcement, a strange new pattern began to develop.

“Hold on, Sissy,” I said to my sister during our usual morning chat. “Britty is calling me.”


“Yes. I know! I think I’m her new best friend,” I laughed. “But it’s actually kind of cool,” I said quickly before clicking over.

My daughter’s customary “touch base” kinds of texts, snapchats, and cursory phone calls suddenly changed. She called me on her way to work. Then at lunch. Then on her way home. And when her husband traveled, I heard from her at night, too, up to four times a day, sometimes for over an hour. I knew more about her life than ever before—what she was doing, feeling, thinking—and every step about the pregnancy progression.

But why?

Then it dawned on me. I’d become relevant.

She was on the cusp of a new phase of her life that I’d experienced—my twenty-eight years of parenting four children suddenly mattered.

My daughter was growing in more ways than one.

But I guess life does that to us as we move through its stages. It gives us permission to grow, to break our patterns, to make room for fresh starts, new beginnings—even when the roots are complex and deep.

And now this willful child who has become a young mother–to-be wants more of me in her life.

I am real-time and relevant—and I love it.

But Brittany isn’t the only one with a perspective shift. I, too, began to see my daughter in a new light as I learned more of about her daily life and approach to this pregnancy.

She questions honestly and thinks critically. She is unafraid to challenge a line of thinking if something doesn’t make sense to her. And yes, 4 a.m. is often the starting hour of her day. The very things that were so difficult for me to parent are turning out to be amazing strengths for her now.

Meanwhile, I’m grateful. To be relevant. To be included. To be part of this next stage of life that is sure to be one fascinating adventure.

This column was written by Rebecca Faye Smith Galli, daughter of the late Dr. R.F. Smith Jr., a long-time columnist for The Herald-Dispatch[email protected] Twitter @chairwriter

Published July 12, 2015 The Herald-Dispatch


  1. Brittany looks beautiful and so happy! Congrats

  2. Beautiful! I can so relate – different challenges, different gender, different life, but my child, a son, has taught me so much more than I ever taught him.